Vincent Gladstone had just enjoyed a pleasant summer evening listening to outdoor music at Harbour Quay and was driving home on his motorcycle, nicknamed Roxy Roller, when a truck turned suddenly in front of him.
Gladstone hit the brakes as best he could. With heavy traffic in the area—it was a Saturday evening, Aug. 15—he had nowhere else to turn, and he hit the pickup truck. He went flying off his motorcycle and over the bed of the truck, skidding on the pavement when he landed.
“I remember spinning like a top and feeling my skin come off,” he recalled. “My first thought was I was sure I was going to die.” His 2009 Harley Davidson Road King was a writeoff.
Port Alberni RCMP Sgt. Peter Dionne confirmed on Saturday, Aug. 15 a pickup truck travelling east on River Road turned left onto Heath Road in front of a westbound motorcycle “that was unable to avoid the truck.”
The drivers and witnesses remained on scene, Dionne said, noting that neither alcohol nor speed were considered factors in the collision.
Gladstone, a Port Alberni contractor and longtime motorcycle enthusiast, received a dislocated right shoulder, fractured right wrist, a hematoma on his left hip and back, and dozens of abrasions.
While his injuries were not life-threatening, Gladstone said the accident was a wakeup call. He also has a warning for other drivers: be vigilant about motorcycle traffic on the road.
“This is another example of how invisible we motorcycle riders seem to be to people in cars.”
This was Gladstone’s second accident on a motorcycle—the first happened in 2013 on Interstate 5 outside of Seattle when he and another rider he was travelling with were both hit; Gladstone sustained broken bones and other serious injuries. “The first one almost killed me and the second one should have. Witnesses said I flew 25 feet and bounced…I got lucky beyond belief.
“Everybody stopped so quickly and I’m grateful,” he said of passersby.
Port Alberni was named ‘Canada’s Most Rider Friendly Community’ in May 2017 after Community Futures Alberta sponsored an online contest. Bragging rights came with signage and a $35,000 marketing campaign with Belt Drive Betty magazine and TV productions.
The city also hosts the Port Alberni Toy Run every year, collecting toys and cash donations from rider participants to fund youth-focused programs and events throughout the year. This year’s event will still take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, but it will be a drive-by event instead of the normal two-day social gathering.
Gladstone said the ‘rider friendly’ designation is not enough: people need to do more to be aware of motorcycles riding in and around the city.
“People just aren’t looking for us,” he said.
“Please keep your eyes wide open and your attention sharply scanning for motorcycles, kids on bikes, joggers and cyclists, etc. I’m so grateful to be alive.”
Not even a week after Gladstone’s accident, and there were three collisions involving a dirt bike and two motorcycles in less than 24 hours—two motorcycle incidents within a block and a couple of hours of each other on Johnston Road, across from Walmart.
“I’ve been riding for just over 41 years and you can never see this coming,” he said.
“Please be safe and hyper-aware that people are either distracted by their devices or not paying attention to motorcycles.”
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